Backup internets

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The Reaper
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Backup internets

Postby The Reaper » Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:39 am UTC

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/ ... 0120091026
Securities exchanges have a sound network back-up if a severe pandemic keeps people home and clogging the Internet, but the Homeland Security Department has done little planning, Congressional investigators said on Monday.

The department does not even have a plan to start work on the issue, the General Accountability Office said.

But the Homeland Security Department accused the GAO of having unrealistic expectations of how the Internet could be managed if millions began to telework from home at the same time as bored or sick schoolchildren were playing online, sucking up valuable bandwidth.

Experts have for years pointed to the potential problem of Internet access during a severe pandemic, which would be a unique kind of emergency. It would be global, affecting many areas at once, and would last for weeks or months, unlike a disaster such as a hurricane or earthquake.

H1N1 swine flu has been declared a pandemic but is considered a moderate one. Health experts say a worse one -- or a worsening of this one -- could result in 40 percent absentee rates at work and school at any given time and closed offices, transportation links and other gathering places.

Many companies and government offices hope to keep operations going as much as possible with teleworking using the Internet. Among the many problems posed by this idea, however, is the issue of bandwidth -- especially the "last mile" between a user's home and central cable systems.

"Such network congestion could prevent staff from broker-dealers and other securities market participants from teleworking during a pandemic," reads the GAO report, available here

"The Department of Homeland Security is responsible for ensuring that critical telecommunications infrastructure is protected."

BLOCKING WEBSITES

Private Internet providers might need government authorization to block popular websites, it said, or to reduce residential transmission speeds to make way for commerce.

The Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security, a group of private-sector firms and financial trade associations, has been working to ensure that trading could continue if big exchanges had to close because of the risk of disease transmission.

"Because the key securities exchanges and clearing organizations generally use proprietary networks that bypass the public Internet, their ability to execute and process trades should not be affected by any congestion," the GAO report reads.

However, not all had good plans for critical activities if many of their employees were ill, the report reads.

Homeland Security had done even less, it said.

"DHS has not developed a strategy to address potential Internet congestion," the report said.

It had also not even checked into whether the public or even other federal agencies would cooperate, GAO said.

"The report gives the impression that there is potentially a single solution to Internet congestion that DHS could achieve if it were to develop an appropriate strategy," DHS's Jerald Levine retorted in a letter to the GAO.

"An expectation of unlimited Internet access during a pandemic is not realistic," he added.
Maybe they can get off their ass and work on propagating fiber distribution, instead of whining about how "oh noes teh tubes is cloggeds! my copper wires aren't getting 500kbps downloads!!! ITS THOSE DAMN KIDS AND THEIR VIDYA GAMES!!!!!"

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psychosomaticism
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Re: Backup internets

Postby psychosomaticism » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:20 am UTC

Heh, makes me think of rationing internet in the same sense as food in times of emergency. I wonder if there'd be a 1gb daily limit of all incoming/outcoming.

It would also lead to an interesting development of websites having to condense content, maybe lower quality images and coding; I imagine facebook et al would have an interesting time restricting photos and video uploading.

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Re: Backup internets

Postby Bright Shadows » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:24 am UTC

Uh... Yeah. An extra 40 million people will tend to clog the tubes a bit, and it will totally be their videogames doing it. Working on infrastructure is a great idea, but not really what's going to solve this issue, because as infrastructure gets better, people use the internet for more consuming tasks.
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Jahoclave
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Jahoclave » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:36 am UTC

Look, when zombies attack I don't need no fucking series of tubes unless they're made of lead and smashing the heads of zombies into a gooey pulp.

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Cynical Idealist
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Cynical Idealist » Tue Oct 27, 2009 5:56 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:Look, when zombies attack I don't need no fucking series of tubes unless they're made of lead and smashing the heads of zombies into a gooey pulp.

But without the internet, how will you contact those people you know are good at killing zombies?

Remember: play L4D, its good preparation for the upcoming zombie apocalypse (and it helps you find people who will watch your fucking back when you need it).
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Jahoclave
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Jahoclave » Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:04 am UTC

Cynical Idealist wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:Look, when zombies attack I don't need no fucking series of tubes unless they're made of lead and smashing the heads of zombies into a gooey pulp.

But without the internet, how will you contact those people you know are good at killing zombies?

Remember: play L4D, its good preparation for the upcoming zombie apocalypse (and it helps you find people who will watch your fucking back when you need it).

[Sexy] It Works, Bitches needs no help. He is a one man zombie wrecking crew that can carry even the dumbest and youngest of n00bs to safety. I has a shotgun. Q.E.D.


Speaking of which, why has our government been so silent about zombie apocalypse preparedness? Is Obama secretly an undead sympathizer? Somebody alert the Glen Beck Bot.

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Cynical Idealist
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Cynical Idealist » Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:09 am UTC

Jahoclave wrote:Speaking of which, why has our government been so silent about zombie apocalypse preparedness? Is Obama secretly an undead sympathizer? Somebody alert the Glen Beck Bot.

That's a damn good question.

Good thing I live in Cumberland, so I don't need to worry about it.
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Iv
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Iv » Tue Oct 27, 2009 11:11 am UTC

Bright Shadows wrote:Uh... Yeah. An extra 40 million people will tend to clog the tubes a bit, and it will totally be their videogames doing it. Working on infrastructure is a great idea, but not really what's going to solve this issue, because as infrastructure gets better, people use the internet for more consuming tasksthrough more badly designed software that waste bandwidth.

Corrected it

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Dauric
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Dauric » Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:38 pm UTC

Iv wrote:
Bright Shadows wrote:Uh... Yeah. An extra 40 million people will tend to clog the tubes a bit, and it will totally be their videogames doing it. Working on infrastructure is a great idea, but not really what's going to solve this issue, because as infrastructure gets better, people use the internet for more consuming tasksthrough more badly designed software that waste bandwidth.

Corrected it


Those 40 million people who would be 'clogging' the internet by being at home sick are already 'clogging' the internet wasting time at work.
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Heisenberg » Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:07 pm UTC

The internet is a luxury. It's not vital to our daily survival. A pandemic will shut down the diamond industry also, but that doesn't mean we need contingency plans for door-to-door delivery.

Also, in order to ration the internets, they'd need to prioritize who is the most important. So they could either shut down high-traffic websites, like Google, which would ruin everyone's day, or they could simply say "Only government and emergency services have access to the internet, ISPs shut everyone else down." Subsequently, phone companies would explode from millions of calls to the Geek Squad.

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netcrusher88
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Re: Backup internets

Postby netcrusher88 » Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:24 pm UTC

Not if they're going to be working from home, which is implied - VPN connections (especially when you're piping some type of RFB (RDP, VNC), Citrix, X, or even worse VoIP over them) can eat a not-insignificant chunk of sustained bandwidth rather than the short bursts involved in most people's web browsing. That said, I think the whole angle of an impact on the Internet at large is somewhat overblown - the Internet is very, very good at getting data from point A to point B even if links are crowded (which they really aren't - backbones are fairly empty) and worst-case network engineers can work some magic to spread the load a bit better and avoid congestion.

What I'd be more concerned about is corporations who have people working from home - a company may have offices all around the country but remote access VPN servers in only a few places (typically where their data storage is concentrated - makes sense) because both the servers and licenses for them are expensive and a VPN server at a remote office is just wasting double the bandwidth, especially for companies with a heavy reliance on centralized or semi-centralized storage or things like Citrix farms. This creates the problem of a massive bottleneck if you have too many users trying to get into the VPN though. I've seen what happens when you overload a VPN server and/or saturate its Internet link and it is not pretty.
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Dauric
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Dauric » Tue Oct 27, 2009 1:37 pm UTC

Depends on what they're doing. Not all 'work from home' is meetings that will be chewing up VOIP-like bandwidths. If I worked from home I wouldn't be using the internet any more than I am now, what I do is pretty much localized to the computer I'm working on.
We're in the traffic-chopper over the XKCD boards where there's been a thread-derailment. A Liquified Godwin spill has evacuated threads in a fourty-post radius of the accident, Lolcats and TVTropes have broken free of their containers. It is believed that the Point has perished.

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Vaniver
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Vaniver » Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:14 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:The internet is a luxury. It's not vital to our daily survival.
Actually, it is vital to our daily survival. Most businesses wouldn't be able to operate nearly as well as they do now, or at all, if the internet were disrupted; and when grocery deliveries don't make it because they weren't ordered, there will be significant problems.

Yes, if it were a normal situation, more people could fix the problem- call in orders, manually plot paths or use offline software, etc. But we're talking about a scenario with 40% absenteeism- so "use 60% of your workforce to do more than you do normally" is hardly a good option.


Now, whether or not 40% of the workforce being at home would cause internet disruption is an entirely separate issue (my guess is that it wouldn't, or as netcrusher88 suggests, it would be localized to particular corporate servers, but I am not an expert).
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Endless Mike
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:29 pm UTC

I don't know why you guys are so worried about zombies. The robocalypse is already much closer to occurring. I mean, people are already training robots to kill. It's only a matter of time before Glenbeckbot realizes that the best government is the robot government and mobilizes the forces.

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Re: Backup internets

Postby The Reaper » Tue Oct 27, 2009 7:24 pm UTC

Endless Mike wrote:I don't know why you guys are so worried about zombies. The robocalypse is already much closer to occurring. I mean, people are already training robots to kill. It's only a matter of time before Glenbeckbot realizes that the best government is the robot government and mobilizes the forces.

I've reported you to the robo-authorities. The knock on your door isn't the robot SS. Answer it now.

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Re: Backup internets

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:26 pm UTC

If computerized intelligence takes over the world, though, there's nothing at all we can do on the Internet anyway, so it's not worth worrying about.
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Endless Mike
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Endless Mike » Wed Oct 28, 2009 1:23 pm UTC

That is a valid point. Objection retracted.

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Re: Backup internets

Postby Sharlos » Wed Oct 28, 2009 2:33 pm UTC

If computerized intelligence takes over the world, it would probably be the internet.

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headprogrammingczar
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Re: Backup internets

Postby headprogrammingczar » Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:29 pm UTC

...who says it hasn't already?
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Forum Viking
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Forum Viking » Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:32 pm UTC

"Hey, guys, I think the internet might be becoming self-aware and making a bid for world domina-"
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Untitled.png (42.95 KiB) Viewed 1648 times
Darn. Best be working on the alternate alert systems. Which involves chopping a whole lot of wood for the smoke signal fires. I'm off.

Now back to the topic at hand.
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Outchanter
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Outchanter » Thu Oct 29, 2009 12:36 am UTC

We could build a second Internet. Bigger. Better! And in no circumstances connected to the first.

When they both turn sentient, we can watch them fight from the safety of our lunar colony.

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LuNatic
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Re: Backup internets

Postby LuNatic » Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:57 am UTC

Outchanter wrote:We could build a second Internet. Bigger. Better! And in no circumstances connected to the first.

When they both turn sentient, we can watch them fight from the safety of our lunar colony.


This sounds like an excellent idea IMO.
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Gelsamel
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Re: Backup internets

Postby Gelsamel » Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:21 am UTC

The internet is to big to fail!
"Give up here?"
- > No
"Do you accept defeat?"
- > No
"Do you think games are silly little things?"
- > No
"Is it all pointless?"
- > No
"Do you admit there is no meaning to this world?"
- > No


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